As a kid, David Meltzer, OD ‘02, FAAO
, played street hockey and was a big fan of the Philadelphia Flyers. He recalls watching the Flyers teams of the 1980s, which made the Stanley Cup finals three times during that decade.
Now he gets to share the ice with some of his boyhood idols like Brad Marsh and Bob “The Hound” Kelly.
Dr. Meltzer, assistant professor and clinical instructor at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University, is a member of the Philadelphia Flyers Warriors, a hockey organization for injured and disabled U.S. military veterans who have a Veterans Administration disability rating of 10 percent or more.
“I saw an article on the Flyers website in the summer of 2019 and being a big hockey fan and a big Flyers fan, I said to myself ‘I need to join that team,’” said Dr. Meltzer.
The Warriors have three different-level teams and have participated in the Warrior Classic tournament for the past three years. In 2021, each of the three teams won their individual divisions in that tournament. The team doesn’t have a set schedule, but practices every Sunday at the Flyers’ Skate Zone in Pennsauken, New Jersey.
Marsh, the former Flyers defenseman and now president of the Flyers Alumni Association, serves as the Warriors coach. Kelly, an aggressive left-winger and one of the team’s “enforcers,” was a member of the “Broad Street Bullies,” the Flyers teams that won consecutive Stanley Cup Championships in 1974 and 1975, and is the Warriors’ assistant coach.
“Getting coached by Brad Marsh is amazing,” said Dr. Meltzer. “And, I’ve been on the ice with John LeClair, one of my boyhood idols. I still have his jersey.”
Dr. Meltzer, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, served in Iraq as part of the First Armored Division embedded with the 47th Forward Support Battalion stationed at the Baghdad Airport during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was one of 10 U.S. optometrists at the time, responsible for treating U.S. soldiers, injured Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war captured by the Americans. He retired from the military in March 2019 and joined the PCO/Salus faculty soon thereafter.
The biggest things for Dr. Meltzer about being a member of the Warriors team is being part of the Flyers organization and being able to spend time with his fellow military veterans.
“When I left the military, I left my family, my brothers and sisters,” said Dr. Meltzer. “But now I can still hang out with them once a week, and even more when we have events.”
That opportunity will come this month when the Warriors will be part of the Flyers Alumni Walk, Run and Stroll, scheduled for April 23 at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. All proceeds from the event will benefit Flyers Alumni and Flyers Warriors charitable efforts as well as the YMCA of Bucks County’s Veterans Wellness Initiative (VWI). For information and to register, visit FlyersAlumni.net.
“Our team is a charity itself and we do a lot of charitable events,” said Dr. Meltzer. “The Flyers organization is certainly a family organization. They treat everybody the same, which is fantastic.”